Smith says she spent a full year hoping it was a phase that would simply go away. "When this first happened, it made no sense," she recalled to CP. Neither she nor her daughter's then-therapist knew what to do, but the problem grew worse as she attempted to ignore it.
Finally confronting the issue, Smith was disappointed to find that the only seemingly credible voices she found in her research all told her to affirm her daughter as a boy immediately and without question.
As Smith and her husband considered how to proceed, their daughter grew increasingly hostile in her insistence that she was a male, and their relationship began rapidly deteriorating.
Smith also says she contacted 10 different therapists who, like the resources she'd found online, all told her that the only option was to begin calling her daughter by the male name she'd chosen and refer to her using male pronouns.
Smith and her husband finally decided to visit a local clinic staffed with therapists who specialized in transgender issues and took the professional advice she was given there. Under pressure and finding no other options, Smith capitulated to her daughter's demands and began affirming her as a male.
"I outwardly told people that this was my son. I went in public with her identifying her as my son," Smith said. "I purchased my daughter a breast binder... I allowed her to make all of the changes I was coerced into making because I was told she was at high risk of suicide if she didn't do these things."
On the surface, Smith was an ardent cheerleader for her daughter and the trans movement, but, in her heart, she was still filled with doubt and confusion.
Manipulation from therapists, gender clinicians
"The notion that children are at greater risk or will take their own lives if they're not allowed to alter their bodies to become their 'authentic' selves is the most common manipulation technique employed by gender clinicians and pro-trans therapists," the CP article states. "They do this, therapists and doctors who oppose transgender ideology say, to put confused children and teens on the pathway to transition and undergo permanent surgical procedures."
"Transgenderism has become so deeply entrenched within certain respected professions that much of the general public now believes that socially and medically transitioning children into these identities is not only completely safe but necessary," the article continues. "As a desperate parent who had for a year been dealing with threats from her daughter, Smith was already fearing she was at risk of hurting herself."
After feeling like they were in over their heads and after months of fruitless research, Smith and her husband made an appointment with a gender therapist nearby in New Jersey before allowing their daughter to see him.
He was kind and praised them for being good parents and wanting to do the right thing for their "son." He cited professional guidelines from the World Professional Association for Transgender Health and his extensive work with the Trevor Project, a suicide hotline for same-sex attracted and trans-identifying youth.
"He came across as very genuine and that he was doing this work to save children," Smith said. Explaining that the key factor in preventing suicide was parental acceptance, the therapist encouraged the Smiths to continue wholeheartedly affirming their child's new identity.
"And so we did it. We felt it was critical. We had to put away all the doubts in our minds. We had to defer to his perceived expertise," Smith said. "We were blindsided at how quickly this all happened. And the therapist pushed this every step of the way. He was planning for the next step, and the next step, and the next step."
The Smiths went along with every step of their daughter's treatment plan until they began feeling increasingly threatened by her therapist with awful repercussions if they didn't go along with more extreme treatments. He informed them that unless they agreed to put their daughter on puberty blockers, she would end up in a mental hospital.
"That was my wake-up moment," Smith said. The therapist's startling intensity sent her to the internet again, only this time she found thoughtful voices willing to scrutinize transgender medicalization and the underlying ideology, such as 4thwavenow.
"And that's when I said: 'Oh my God, what have I done?" Smith said.
"She found the coercive language that the therapist used to frame her choice as between hormone suppressants or a mental hospital particularly disturbing as it caused her to call into question her maternal instincts," the article explains. "The therapist snidely dismissed her questions about the puberty-blocking drugs and gave her misleading assurances that they had been thoroughly studied and were a completely safe way to 'explore gender.'"
"When I expressed concerns he told me I was a highly anxious mother," Smith said.
Unable to keep burying her doubts and regret, Smith attempted to reverse course with her daughter, but it wasn't that simple. To this day, Michelle feels horribly betrayed, has screamed at Smith repeatedly, and has threatened to run away several times.
Ever since turning away from the therapist, Smith has lived month after month in immense pain. The stress of going against the transgender tide has caused her to physically deteriorate. Friends have abandoned her as she seeks to cut off transgender influences in her family's life.
"The hardest thing is that I didn't have support from anyone throughout this process," she said. "This was something that, unlike most issues where there is good information, most issues where you can find a therapist to help you or a support group, or even friends and family who get it and bring you casseroles — there's none of that."
Smith is not alone, however: "The only place where she has found refuge has been other parents in similar predicaments who converse online, hiding behind pseudonyms. They keep their identities anonymous because of the social and increasingly legal repercussions —depending on the state or locality — that they could face for refusing to go along with their children’s confusion."
"To this day, I feel like my closest relationships now are with those parents. And yet, we don't even know each other's real names," she added.
"I do worry that the only way for my daughter to see the truth, to come to me as my daughter once again, is to go through some serious medical changes," Smith said, explaining that her daughter has done her own online research and now knows what reputable medical organizations and their guidelines say.
The brainwashing, according to Smith, is all but complete as schools, pop culture, and medical authorities lend their vocal support to the transgender movement.
"When a child has been affirmed for years and years ... when they're celebrated at school as special for being ‘transgender’... when authority figures treat them like they are the opposite sex and use their male name and pronouns without hesitation ... when they've had experts tell them they should medically transition ... and everything on the internet tells them this is true, how could anyone reach a child who has been victimized by such deep, cult-like indoctrination? How could a parent possibly undo this?” Smith asked.
"The only thing I can do right now is love her with all my heart," she continued, choking back tears. "Everything I say to her I say in love. I'm the only person in this world who's willing to accept her wrath of rejection by speaking that truth in love because everybody else will tell her what she wants to hear."